Ranji Trophy: Bumrah's demolition act takes Gujarat into final

Jasprit Bumrah clinically dismantled the Jharkhand batting order with a career-best spell of 6 for 29 in 14 overs, and won the match for Gujarat by 123 runs with a day to spare.

Jasprit Bumrah took 6 for 29 in 14 overs to help bowl Jharkhand out for 111.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Jasprit Bumrah secured the sixth five-wicket haul in his first-class career.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

There is no better sight in cricket than a fast bowler operating with the new ball and hunting wickets.

On an eventful Wednesday afternoon session, speedster Jasprit Bumrah, possessing strength, energy and skill, typified the commonly held belief and showed the way for Gujarat to enter the Ranji Trophy final after six and half decades. He clinically dismantled the Jharkhand batting order with a career-best spell of 6 for 29 in 14 overs, and won the match for his side by 123 runs with a day to spare.

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Gujarat will now meet the winner of the semifinal between Mumbai and Tamil Nadu in Indore from January 10.

Gujarat took the field on the fourth morning looking to lift its second innings score from a paltry 82 overall, in order to set a tough fourth-innings target. After skipper Parthiv Patel gave a pep talk to his teammates, Manprit Juneja and Chirag Gandhi responded to the dire situation with splendid half-centuries. They left the onerous job of defending 234 to its bowling department that became somewhat depleted with left-arm seamer Rush Kalaria rendered hors de combat because of an injury to the bowling-hand shoulder.

Left-hand medium pacer Rudra Pratap Singh, who showed fine craft to dismiss half a dozen Jharkhand batsmen in the first innings, provided two crucial breakthroughs to bring the opponent under immense pressure. Once Bumrah bowled Sumit Kumar neck and crop, there was no stopping him from making further inroads; he had found his bearings in his opening burst and he turned out even more deadly after a short break from activity.

Gujarat had deployed R. P. Singh in the league tournament on a need-basis dictated by the quality of the surface, but Parthiv and the team management took the decision to field him in the semifinal once they batted out Odisha in the quarterfinal at Jaipur; word had gone around that the re-laid surface here with a heavy red soil content offered much assistance to fast bowlers and their ilk, and made them a real force.

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The fourth-wicket stand between the left hander Virat Singh (he batted for 75 minutes) and Ishan Kishan delivered a small partnership of 36 runs, but after their fall in a space of three runs raised possibilities of Jharkhand’s second innings folding up on the fourth day itself, it happened with the umpires extending play after the fall of the ninth wicket at 4.30 P M.

R. P.Singh took the last wicket for excellent match figures of 9 for 115 to bring the semifinal to an end. The Gujarat players jumped in joy at the emphatic manner of the victory.

Bumrah was declared the Man of the Match.

“The Ranji Trophy final is a dream come true for all of us in the team. We felt great in the middle. We have really worked hard for this moment in the last three-four years. We played good cricket, but never crossed the finishing line. We always believed that we can enter the final and win the trophy. I am glad this year we have done it by reaching the final. The pitch was fantastic; an ideal one for a five-day game. With red soil in it, there was bounce and the grass cover was good,” said Parthiv.